Psycho-Trauma Support Project Image Psycho-Trauma Support Secondary Image

Project Summary

The goal of this program is to provide psychological and trauma support for refugees and IDP's at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda. Currently, Kiryandongo is home to more than 25, 000 people who have fled from violence. Many have lost their homes and all of their possessions; have witnessed the deaths of family members and experienced physical or sexual assault.

There is an urgent need for psychological support so they can begin to heal their emotional wounds and start rebuilding a more hopeful future.

Designed and implemented by ESA, (Elisabeth Scheffer Associates) a team of specialist trauma psychotherapists with many years’ experience working with military personnel on active duty and in private practice, the program will run under the management umbrella of Real Medicine Foundation.

The project will train 30 local mental health workers in a range of evidence-based techniques and best practice protocols that can be implemented immediately to help refugees and IDPs heal from post-war trauma and emotional suffering. The local mental health workers will be trained and supervised for one year, with follow-up visits and home office support by ESA.

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Project Background

Psycho-Trauma Support Project Background Image

The conflict between government troops and rebels in South Sudan has so far killed thousands of people and displaced more than 900,000 since it began in mid-December 2013. Many people have been forced to take shelter in refugee camps along the borders and in Uganda.

Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda, is a UNHCR managed refugee settlement that provides shelter, land and support for more than 25,000, comprised of Ugandan IDPs and refugees from Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) has partnered with UNHCR in supporting Kiryandongo and the greater surrounding community of Bweyale (an additional 30,000 residents) with health care, education and vocational training since 2008. Our vision at Kiryandongo has always been to help the refugee communities get back on their feet through better health, education, and new work skills/vocational training so that they are equipped to leave the Refugee Camps and be able to support themselves.

Elisabeth Scheffer Associates (ESA) is a team of licensed and highly experienced psychotherapists providing help for those who help others. Each of the ESA team members is a qualified and experienced clinician (LPC, LPCC, or PhD level) with advanced training and experience dealing with high levels of stress, including trauma resolution, conflict resolution, suicide prevention, burnout, grief and loss, marriage and child-related issues. Each is also experienced in multicultural settings and international environments and has years of experience providing counselling, training, workshops and support for the United States Armed Forces both within the U.S. and across Europe and Asia, as well as in other settings including hospitals, schools, businesses, and community clinics.

The ESA focus is on helping the helpers and providing psychological support both to humanitarian field workers pre and post deployment, and providing in-country support for NGO’s.

Results to Date

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Real Medicine Foundation has been serving Ugandans, Ugandan IDPs and refugees from other African nations since April 2008.

Since those early days, RMF has greatly expanded its support and development initiatives at the Kiryandongo Settlement to both Ugandan IDPs and refugees from numerous other African nations with Vocational Training, Water System Repair and upgrades, School Fee Support, Support of Kiryandongo’s Panyadoli Health Center with continuous medicine and medical supplies as well as personnel support; RMF also continues its support to the Mama Kevina Boarding School and Orphanage, and is now also constructing additional buildings on the school’s campus.

This project would add greatly needed psychological support to heal the emotional wounds of refugees and IDP's by providing small group and one- on- one culturally appropriate counseling sessions with a trained local clinician.

Additional Information

Due to the cultural nuances and to the extreme nature of the emotional turmoil this population has experienced, facilitators need to be carefully trained to attend to the healing process in a sensitive and coherent way. Training local facilitators to undertake specific workshops and to utilize established trauma healing protocols is the primary objective of this program. We plan to deliver services in a way that is holistic, empathetic, strengths-based, and culturally-sensitive by training local facilitators to work with this population.

The ESA team are all experienced therapist trainers and implementors and will teach groups of mental health workers to become effective facilitors of workshops and of individual sessions and provide team-building support and training to prevent them from succumbing to burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatization.



RMF is aligned with governments and international agencies in 14 countries around the world. We partner with and empower local populations, co-creating sustainable solutions for community-specific obstacles. RMF is also an official “implementing partner “ for the UNHCR within the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement

The partnering relationship with ESA will add a hugely significant dimension to the Kyriandongo refugee settlement project and provide the community with the urgently needed psychological and emotional support it so desperately needs

RMF believes real medicine focuses on the whole person, reaching beyond medical and physical care to include economic, social and emotional support.